cover image The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son and the CIA

The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son and the CIA

Scott C. Johnson. Norton, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-393-23980-5

The bitter truth of his father working for the CIA years ago still haunts Johnson, a former Newsweek foreign correspondent, and that knowledge forms the spine of this revealing book of family discord, disconnection, and reunion. He never sugarcoats the sense of betrayal his father inspired due to the years of falsely claiming to be a diplomat; a betrayal of both Johnson and his adoptive mother, who felt tricked into a marriage of convenience and dark secrets. "[W]e simply stopped trusting each other under the strain of the many lies." The consequences of this double life linger for years; even affecting his father's political ambitions as GOP smears derail a senatorial bid. Johnson despises his father's ongoing misinformation and misrepresentations, refusing to remain complicit in the necessary duplicities of espionage. Determined not to follow his father's deceptive footsteps, Johnson becomes a foreign journalist, mainly in the Middle East and Afghanistan, where he encounters an ex-al Qaeda agent and learns the arts of forgiveness and parental pride. Johnson's engrossing memoir, through the layers of subterfuge, uncovers many basic truths of familial conflict, allowing concessions and reconciliation to eventually win the day despite the years of lies and poor choices. (May)